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Flash Fiction Friday: Baby Carrot

by Crystal Babb

“A carrot with hair,” he groused and finished his beer. He set the beer stein on the counter harder than he meant to, but the thick glass did not complain. Neither did the carrot, which he regarded with narrowed eyes. “It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.”

“It’s supposed to have more protein than regular carrots,” said his wife, distracted by the sheet of instructions she had unfolded and was currently perusing with the careful eye of a professional Ikea carpenter.

“Where did you find this? You didn’t buy it from another homeless person, did you?” She probably had. A carrot with hair, that kind of thing was exactly what a homeless person would hock and exactly the kind of thing his wife would purchase in her ecstasy of charity and eager discovery. He could imagine the praise she had showered on herself as she marched home with her trophy: I’ve found something Bonnie’s never heard of, and probably bought that man his evening meal.

The carrot had a face, also with hair. A tiny, pointed beard jutted out from what looked like the carved features of an old man. A poof of wiry, dark hair — no bigger than a steel wool scrub — crowned what he thought of as the “head” of the wayward vegetable.

“I’m supposed to eat this?”

His wife laughed. “Of course not, silly,” she said. “We’re going to raise it.”

He looked at her in profound horror.

The carrot gurgled and its carved lips formed a moue of disdain. “Da-dee,” it pouted in thick sarcasm.

“I’ll be goddamned,” he muttered and stalked into the living room, taking his empty beer stein with him.

“Language,” his wife called after him in a distracted tone. “We have a carrot to think of now.”

“No, you have a carrot,” he called back, bristling.

He heard the carrot gurgle and pout again. Only God and his wife knew what it said.

He stood in the living room, clutching the empty stein to his chest as he stared blankly out into his front yard. He could see his neighbor across the street, Phil something-or-other, bent over and pulling weeds and wild onions in his underwear. He was momentarily distracted from the monstrosity on the kitchen counter by the monstrosity of Phil’s large ass pointed at the sky as he gathered the ingredients for his infamous dandelion-and-onion soup.

What will the neighbors think?

“Hey, honey?” His wife had appeared in the transition zone between the kitchen and the living room.

“I have to go now,” he said and left before she could say anything else.

The evening sun cast long, purple shadows across the lawn; the rise and fall of cicada police sirens carried him across the street. Phil saw him coming from between his legs, his round face flushed and wet from his gathering effort. “Well hey there, Jim,” said Phil as he straightened up, his fists full of green, pungent stalks.

“Soup tonight?”

“You know it.” Phil gestured toward Jim’s house with one fist. “Why don’t you and Sandy join us for dinner?”

The smell of wild onions was making his eyes water. “Not tonight. Sandy brought home a carrot.”

“I don’t follow.”

“A carrot with hair.”

“Hm,” said Phil, puzzled. He rubbed at his forehead with the back of his fist. “Are you supposed to eat it?”

“She wants me to raise it.”

Phil looked at him in profound horror.

“My thoughts exactly,” said Jim morosely.

Phil shook his head and made a face like he tasted something sour. “That’s not right.”

The two men stood there in agreeable silence. Jim looked into his empty beer stein. Phil looked up into the sky, his fists resting on his ample hips. The shadows around them deepened; the cicadas buzzed; Jim’s eyes watered.

“I have to go now,” said Jim, and left Phil standing quiet and motionless on his lawn.

He found his wife sitting on the couch when he returned. She was topless; the carrot was swaddled in a dishtowel and appeared to be suckling at her left breast as she gazed upon it. She seemed positively beatific. “How was Phil?” she asked without looking up.

“Gross,” he replied spasmodically and went into the kitchen. He set the empty beer stein on the counter more delicately than he meant to. The instructions his wife had been reading earlier were spread out where the carrot had once been. He saw that they were written in Greek.

He shook his head as he opened the refrigerator and rummaged around for a fresh beer. “I’ll be goddamned,” he muttered.

From now on, he decided, I’ll be the one doing the grocery shopping.

______

Crystal is a twenty-something Midwesterner who has nursed an interest in writing since she was old enough to hold a pen. A lifelong fan of the irregular and terrific, her influences include Stephen King, “Full House” reruns, and her own nightmares. Crystal lives with her husband and requisite number of pets (3) in central Missouri and is currently pursuing a degree in Elementary Education.

Dilation Exercise 107

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires a story, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Alister knew they were just plants, but he sensed a desperation about them.


As the days became shorter, the nights colder, they came up with a simple plan.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Weeds” copyright © 2006 Alan M. Clark.
Cover illustration for Weed Species by Jack Ketchum – Cemetery Dance Publications.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.

Flash Fiction Friday: Sweat Bees

by Granary Rubworth

There wasn’t anything Clement could say with his mouth sewn shut. He lay there naked on his belly atop the carpenter’s table at the bottom of the hole. The smell of freshly broken earth all around him, he wished his eyes had also been sewn shut.

Maynard jiggled a limp penis worm in front of Clement’s grimacing face.

“I sewed your eyes open, boy, so you could see exactly what is going up your turd burrow,” the greasy man laughed, pulling his pants fully down to expose the parasitic appendages sprouting from his crotch and thighs. “I’m all penis worms, and I’m going to give each and every one a chance to explore your innermost recesses.”

As he baked in the noonday sun, Clement tried to focus on feeling the ligatures that bound him to the table, searching for the possibility of an escape, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m sweaty,” he tried to say, but it just came out as quiet mumbles.

Maynard laughed as he rubbed two of his longest worms, causing them to release from their tips spiny appendages that served as mouths

“They eat mud, boy. I bet they want to eat your gut mud too!” He hawked a loogie in Clement’s face and moved to his rear.

Clement clenched in horror, no longer able to see what his sadistic assailant was doing.

He started to sweat.

His sweat crawled from his many pores in the form of tiny bees. They took flight and began stinging Maynard to death, one tiny dose of venom at a time. After a couple dozen stings, the man wobbled and fell to his knees, barely breathing.

The largest of the penis worms screamed, “Whoa, dudes! What would Jesus do? Don’t sting me, bro!”

“Jesus would kill all of your sorry kind, you worm!” Shrieked Jesus, doing fancy kung-fu moves with his flaming sword. He jumped down into the hole and chopped the worm in half with the fiery blade.

The sweat bees felt no kinship with the penis worms, and they stung the rest of them to death too.

Jesus, surveying the destruction, started laughing hysterically.

Clement groaned. Jesus snapped his fingers once and the sutures disappeared from the man’s mouth and eyes. He blinked like a fidgety neurotic teenager.

“Holy shit. Thanks Jesus,” Clement said. “Now can you do something about the ropes tying me to this table?”

“Yes, I sure can… but I won’t, not until I’ve done something that Jesus shouldn’t do,” said the messiah in a lascivious tone that troubled Clement somehow more so than the idea of Maynard raping him with spiny worms.

“Relax,” said Jesus. “I’m not going to molest you. I’m just going to make you watch me do Gangnam Style and give me an honest critique, Clem, because no one is ever honest with me about my moves.”

“I don’t even know what Gangnam Style is, Lord.”

“Oh, shoot,” said Jesus. He fished his smartphone from his robe pocket and googled up the video. Clement watched it dispassionately. “You see that dance, that’s what I’m talking about.”

“Can’t we go inside, where I’m not all naked in the sun, sweating bees?”

“Fine, you don’t want to critique my moves, fine!” yelled Jesus. He snapped his fingers and Clement was unbound.

He stood up and thanked his savior.

“Okay, Clem, I gotta go,” said Jesus, flying into the sky. Before he was out of earshot, Jesus turned his head back toward the naked man and said, “You’re going to Hell.”

The Son of Man didn’t even notice the trail of sweat bees following him to Heaven.

_____

Granary Rubworth decided to write Bizarro after reading the works of Jeremy Robert Johnson and Gabino Iglesias. He would like to see these two men get married. Vote for Prop 973.

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#Caturday

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Faerie that Must Not Dream Napoleon

by Garrett Cook

I.

“Won’t you come home, Bill Bailey, won’t you come home?” she screamed the whole night long.

But that was not the name of the treacherous object. The name was raincoat slick, slippery as a womb, harder to grasp than grief. And it was off. The name moved onto the next town and found work as a roustabout, married a girl named Carol but it didn’t last. It was the type of name that had a girl in every port. It was no Messiah, so it couldn’t be nailed down.

II.

In a parking lot outside the bank, William Mack, sheriff of Treesbleed, ducked behind a car as an elephant with a James Dean pompadour opened fire with dual shotguns.

“The jig is up, Billy Joe,” said the sheriff, “I know exactly what you’ve done!”

The crowd gathered round clapped for this staccato three times. They were glad to know their tax dollars were so hard at work. They knew he would never let Billy Joe or his Lakota shaman accomplice, Robert Smallhands escape justice.

But the radio barked to life with the sound of problems that had nothing to do with rogue elephants or Native American sorcerers.

“There’s been a murder.”

“Stop!” the sheriff shouted, waving his arms.

“Why?” asked the rogue elephant as he let loose another burst.

“Why?” asked Robert Smallhands, as he sprinkled some sort of magic dust on the ground.

“Why?” asked the spirits of Robert’s ancestors as they loaded the elephant trailer with sacks of money.

“There’s been a murder!” shouted Sheriff Mack.

One of Robert’s ancestors whispered in his ear. The shaman nodded.

“It is so,” said Robert.

“Was it anyone I know?” asked Billy Joe.

“Yes.”

III.

She was dancing as hard as her hooves could take, high off the soul of the pizza guy on the floor.

“Come a little bit closer,” she’d said, “you’re my kind of man, so big and so strong…”

And he did, failing to register the green of her skin and her cloven feet, instead taking in her curves and the rapacious gleam in her eyes. He’d had no idea how rapacious and how ravenous she was. He had no idea that she’d dance him to death and suck his soul out through his cock.

It was in him, the name, vagabond though it was, way in the back with other trivium. She encountered it sometimes before it took its leave. But it always took its leave and it always became Bill Bailey. And she did. She made the usual promises, and they didn’t come to fruition.

IV.

William Mack of Treesbleed had a sweet green corpse in his swimming pool. It was a sloppy frameup. Pinned to the chest was a note that read “you did it.”

“How could you!” exclaimed the elephant, eyes dripping great big pachyderm tears.

Robert the Sioux squeezed his temples.

“He didn’t. It’s a frameup.”

“Oh,” said Billy Joe, “I’m very sorry. She was someone I knew.”

“We all knew her,” said the sheriff, “she was an important part of this community.”

“What are we gonna do now?” asked the elephant.

V.

She danced around the room orgasmic and sated. She danced around the room knowing something was coming, and it was going to be good. She stopped screaming for Bill Bailey since morning had broken like a hymen, letting loose a stream of epiphany. Yes, that was the name, that was the thing. She’d attained it.

The doorbell rang and she assumed it was a giant check from Ed McMahon, who would roam the town all revenant-ish to give out giant checks even after death. Because someone had to do it. But standing at the door wasn’t Ed McMahon. It was a milk man, or at least a deliveryman in the whitest uniform she’d ever seen. He was carrying a bouquet of flowers.

“This is for you,” he said, “you’ve done it.”

“For me?” she asked.

“For you.”

And so was the knife in his other hand which he drove in and out thirty times over just to make sure it was done, just to make sure that someone else would be lost to a broken taboo. The Man Who Delivered Flowers took her out to his truck and made a political statement. It was an election year and the other sheriff candidate was his cousin.

V.

What would they do without her; she, who lent beauty and effervescence and hope and asked nothing but souls to drink, she, who had been so innocent and well behaved and not done the one thing she wasn’t supposed to until she did, she whose loss would no doubt cause some sort of important change in the heart of some man or another, she, who was almost a person interested in things besides not doing the wrong thing that would get her murdered…what would they do without her?

The sheriff experienced a complicated epiphany.

“You might just make it out of this alive,” an angel whispered into his ear.

He looked to the crying elephant and the crying shaman and the crying ancestors and knew what to say.

“Take the money and run.”

_______

Author of Murderland part 1:h8, Murderland 2:Life During Wartime, Archelon Ranch, Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective, and Time pimp. Find out more about me: http://thegarrettcook.blogspot.com.

Flash Fiction Friday: Drive

by Scott Cole

The crashed car undid itself. Twisted metal unfolded, jagged edges smoothed, bent lines straightened. Patches of rust effervesced into the air and disappeared.

I reached for the driver’s side door handle, now shiny-new, and pulled. I sank down into the bucket seat, which seemed to somehow sit lower than the pavement beneath the tires.

The woman in the passenger seat was some sort of punk-jock hybrid. Black smears under her eyes. Multi-colored pigtails hanging at a dozen angles. Shoulder pads. Elbow pads. Safety pin in her lip. A torn jersey, oversized, with the number 99 on it. Yellow lipstick that seemed to glow, reflecting some unknown light source.

Upon closer inspection, I realized the smears on her cheeks were actually a pair of very detailed line drawings of tiny cars. Hot rods. Maybe tattooed there.

“Drive,” she said.

The spider web cracks in the windshield erased themselves, and I could see the surf racing toward us. From between the buildings, a wave of purple-gray water rushed in our direction, foaming pink along the edges like a chemical spill.

A kid on a dirt bike was wheelie-riding the crest of it, waving a severed, cherry-colored tentacle in the air above his head. His body language was telling us to go. Go now.

The car was already running. I popped it into reverse & checked the rearview on instinct. A pair of chimps sat nervously in the back seat, trapped in place by harnesses, cages with sensors wrapped around their heads. They were clearly distressed, but remained silent. I hadn’t noticed them until now. They locked eyes with my reflection.

“Drive! Drive! Drive!” the kid screamed.

I hit the gas, and spun the car backwards in an arc, then slammed on the brakes, moved the needle back to D, and gunned it. In the mirror, I spotted the kid between the chimps’ heads, pedaling furiously on the water. He dropped his front wheel and tossed the tentacle at us. It helicoptered through the air, landed on the trunk, and stuck there.

The water behind us seemed to grow taller as the buildings receded in the distance. Ahead, I spotted a bridge. I knew if I could just make it there before the water reached us, everything would be fine.

“Drive! Drive! Drive!” my punk-jock companion yelled, slapping her palms on the dashboard with each word. The chimps started panting, showing their panic.

I gripped the steering wheel as hard as I could and stood on the gas pedal. We raced toward the bridge, hitting the entrance just a moment later. The car bucked as we began climbing the span, and the purple wave behind us crashed around the foot of it, bleeding into the river beneath us.

The woman beside me screamed, excited, but the chimps in the back looked no more relaxed. The kid on the bike had disappeared. I was pretty sure he drowned. The tentacle on the trunk was wagging in the wind like a tail.

And then, as we reached the middle point of the bridge, it gave out. The center of the structure just ahead of us crumbled and fell into the water below. We launched off one ragged end, into the air, and hung there, floating like some cartoon bad guy before recognizing the existence of gravity.

We’re still hanging here, floating like a metal cloud between the two broken stubs of a formerly functional bridge. But the chimps no longer seem concerned.

_________

Scott Cole has written numerous words, which have appeared in places like Bizarro Central, Weirdyear, Flashes In The Dark, and MicroHorror, not to mention countless emails. He also makes pictures, which have been featured in magazines and on people’s walls. He lives in Philadelphia, where he likes to listen to strange music and drink coffee.

The New Bizarro Author Series Seeks Book Submissions

Want to become a part of Eraserhead Press’s New Bizarro Author Series? We are actively seeking submissions and time is quickly running out for this year. The books will make their debut at BizarroCon in mid-November. You can read the detailed submission guidelines here.

We’ve asked our 3 series editors about the kinds of books that they are looking for. This is what they said:

Bradley Sands:

I’m only interested in novellas, so no story collections please. Please keep the books under 30,000 words. Although it specifies that in the guidelines, most of the submissions that I receive are longer.

I like books that focus on language, meaning the author put a lot of effort into writing each sentence. But I don’t like style over substance. Form and content are of equal importance to me.

I have a weakness for books that are related to pop culture and are gimmicky. But a mediocre book with a good gimmick isn’t going to work for me. It needs to be a great book with a great gimmick.

I’m looking for books that use a central high-concept idea: books that can be summed up in a sentence or two. Also, the sentence (or two) should make a potential reader excited about your book and make them want to buy it.

I prefer pitches for unwritten books over full-manuscript submissions. Send me a whole bunch. If I end up liking one, I’ll ask you for a sample of your best writing. I know there isn’t much time left to write an entire book for this year’s series, so if that’s not possible, there’s always next year.

Spike Marlowe:

I’m looking for smart, entertaining, creative stories with strong plots and emotional cores. I want stories that are unique and personal to the author, stories that couldn’t have been written by anyone else. I’m open to looking at all types of bizarro, and am excited about expanding what fits under the bizarro umbrella. I’m especially interested in authors who represent diversity in their identity and within their stories.

Kevin Donihe:

I’m looking for character-driven work in which the oddity feels natural to the story, rather than forced and unnatural to the narrative.

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